Sunday, December 10, 2023

Arsenal interest in David Raya raises some questions

Morning all.

Let’s start with the news that Arsenal are reportedly looking to make a move for Brentford goalkeeper, David Raya.

This is quite interesting for a couple of reasons. First, and while I’m not going to jump to any big conclusions here, does it suggest that perhaps Mikel Arteta is not 100% convinced by Aaron Ramsdale as his number 1? Raya is a player we pursued in the past, but at that point Brentford weren’t for budging. Now, with just a year left on his contract, they have a decision to make if he won’t extend: cash in, or see him leave on a free.

This may well be part of the reason we’re after him, but for me it raises some questions about Ramsdale. Right now, he is the unquestionable first choice keeper based on the players we have available. Adding someone like Raya means a lot more competition than he has at the moment. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it might be a case that the manager is keen to apply the same measure of competition to every position in his squad, but it’s not always the case with goalkeepers.

When you look at other sides, Man City and Liverpool spring to mind, the quality of their first choice keeper means that there’s a big gap between them and their deputy. I think there’s a gap between Ramsdale and Matt Turner right now, but that wouldn’t be anywhere near as obvious as a Ramsdale/Raya duo. We know that Arteta really likes Ramsdale, he wooed him to bring him here in the first place, and did so knowing that this was a deal that was open to question by many, fans and pundits alike. Since then, he has proved plenty of people wrong. He’s a player I like, and one I think can get better given his age.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the manager thinks having two quality goalkeepers is important for the way he wants to build his squad. We know he’s got plenty of ideas, and a domestic/European keeper system wouldn’t be a major shock or anything – even if that hasn’t always worked for me when we’ve tried it in the past. The other thing to take into account here is that Raya has a strong relationship with goalkeeping coach Iñaki Caña, they worked together at Brentford, and this may be something that’s driving this interest. Given that he also recommended Alex Runarsson, you might be a little wary of that (I am), but it’s probably part of it.

The secondary aspect to this is the future of Matt Turner. There are already some rumours about Nottingham Forest, and it wouldn’t be a big surprise if he left. He is first choice for the USMNT right now, but without regular football, that’s surely not going to be the case indefinitely. I also thought it was just a little strange how, given his position with his national side, he wasn’t present at all during the US tour. I know he had played in the Gold Cup and needed some holidays, but with Arsenal in the USA, it seemed a little odd to me he wasn’t involved at all.

I think Turner was already looking at a season where his only playing time would have been in the EFL and Carabao Cups. With Arsenal back in the Champions League, those are games that Ramsdale would have played, so it’s not as if he’d even have those Europa League group games. With two players like Ramsdale and Raya ahead of him, if this deal went through, he’d only have played due to some kind of injury crisis, so it does feel as if he needs to make a move for the sake of his own career.

Overall, there’s plenty to try and unpack from this interest, and maybe too there’s an angle we’re not aware of at this moment in time. Arteta’s plans sometimes don’t make full sense until you see them executed, so if this one does happen, it will be fascinating to see how it plays out. I also think that the price-tag of £40m is not something we can meet until we sell a few more, so this is far from imminent.

Right, let’s leave it there for this morning. James and I will be recording an Arsecast Extra for you a little later on this morning. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.

For now, have a good one.

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